What to share… when to share … how to share… Questions milling around in any dater’s head.
The old advice, “You can never say the wrong thing to the right person” doesn’t really apply in our shiduch system. For whatever reasons.
What needs to be shared, and what really doesn’t. And how many details.
Shiduch dating is about seeing if both of you are compatible for marriage to each other. And most of the discussion should be toward that end.
So before you just dump all your baggage, consider if what you are about to share is indeed important for the other person to know to determine if you are a good shiduch.
And similarly, before you pry into the other person’s personal life, determine if that is really important to know.
Before even discussing what should be shared or not, it is important for you to recognize that nobody’s life is perfect. Not yours. And not the person who you end up marrying.
Everybody has something. And we can handle a lot more than we think we can.
Another aspect to consider is the halachos of lashon hara. And other people’s privacy.
There might be a purpose to share some part of the situation. How much? How?
We bring our whole selves into a marriage – our pasts, our experiences and all. But not all should be shared.
- No need to share about past relationships – who you met and when.
- No need to share about mistakes that you’ve grown from.
- No need to share details of family issues.
You know your story. You know the players. And you know how much is important to share and what just becomes details.
Plan exactly what you will share, and how you will share that.
You might discuss how you feel about it all, how you hope to do things differently and what you are proactively doing to that end.
And prepare what you might say if the other asks questions that are too personal, or irrelevant.
Be careful to maintain privacy of other people
If you are sharing something about how you would like to live your life – differently than your people in your family (parents, siblings, etc,) it may not be necessary to say what your family members do wrong.
For example, if you want a wife that will cover her properly, there is no need to say that ‘my sister/ mother/ sister-in-law, etc. walks around without her hair covered and I don’t want that.” You can simply state that “in my house, I expect that I am marrying someone who covers her hair all the way,” Your wife does not need to know the business of other people.
Of course, there are some things that the details of who/ how must be shared. That is different, see if you can figure out how to say it without disclosing.
Of course, you can preface this discussion with words like:
“I certainly will not share your personal stories; they are not mine to share. And I hope that what I am about to disclose, you will never tell anyone else. [deep breath] Ok, here goes …”
And stick to your plan. You really don’t have to share all that much about it. You can say something along the lines of: “I know the story, and I can assure you that the details aren’t really relevant …”
Sharing something personal can be a touchstone in a relationship.
It can bring you closer.
Or you just might see that the other person is not for you.
In either case, it just might be important to share some of it.
Slowly, if that feels more comfortable to you.
Sharing about your flaws/ humanness/ imperfections
It’s our imperfections* that make us human. And approachable. And loveable.
There is no need to lay it all out on the table before even meeting someone.
At the same time, it is not right to hide it too long either. S/he is investing time and energy into the relationship. If you feel that this relationship might go somewhere, it’s time to tell.
*medical conditions, debt, family issues
Many times, it’s in the ‘how’ of the telling.
Sound confident, that you are aware of it and working on it, keeping it under control, it doesn’t impact your life, etc. (obviously depending on what it is).
Then give him/her time to ask more questions or be quiet as s/he takes time to digest it all. Be very patient here. Especially if the news was sprung on him/her.